Orbital: Tessellated Vision of a Contemporary Garden Folly

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What form evokes the future? How do complexity, vibrancy and organic expression of structures weave into our life fabric? Orbital presents a glorious vision of a contemporary garden folly designed by FUTUREFORMS. The design initiates on geometric exploration and material zeal. The concept ropes in organic flutes and curves from nature, along with the inspiration of giant robots and futuristic space vehicles. The structure composes of three coiled legs spiralling towards the sky. Stainless steel origami skins define the exterior surface, while a vortex of colourful tactile shingles wraps the interior space. The staggering dynamism of Orbital pokes an era of rapid transformation and ambiguity, all the while inspiring inquisitiveness and spirited collaboration.

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Currently, our cities echo through constant change in a thrilling motion, evolving and transforming our daily lives and connecting us at myriad levels. Patterns define rapidly through high-definition overlays and more experiential outlines exist in nature, the sky, and the stars. A few patterns dawdle, as defined geometries and forms enable us to conceive and grasp our sense of place in the world and anchor us. The Orbital springs into the sky, silhouetting a curved trajectory around the centre of the sculpture, weaving a place beneath it. Starting off as a rational geometry and then transforming into steel and coloured coiled orbital. Geometrically, the exterior and interior skins are similar, yet composed of materially distinct tessellated and shingled modules. A tactile and colourful interior contrast the highly reflective exterior.


Orbital imbues various ways to inculcate the two worlds and expose a two-way experiencing artwork. On the outside, a textured, tessellated, layer articulates a towering structure anchoring the site. This provides a visual identity and attraction from afar. As you enter, the inside colour field mesmerises and magnifies us to pause in awe, look up in amusement and indulge in the experience and drama.

The binary “inside-outside” artwork extends its experience into daytime and night-time presence. Orbital’s exterior flashes in bold charisma during the day, taking over the hints of colourful interior playing hide and seek, yet revealing only to those who step under or walk through and look up. By the night, the interior-coloured surface lights up to an internal glow and shimmers Orbital as a unique object, radiating like a lantern in a garden. Light slits escape the interior while weaving the geometry as it sweeps upwards.

Orbital intimately engages with the site and the public. When viewed from the Bridgeview Way and Pierpoint Lane, the structure stands tall as an iconic marvel soaring the sky. The reflective surface weaves an ever-changing fractal image of the surroundings on its surface. Orbital also encapsulates the second way of interaction with the artwork as one steps under and immerses into a colourful space looped by the three twisted forms. The small scale magnifies the intimate experience between a small crowd.

Project Details:
Location: Mission Bay, San Francisco, CA (Pierpoint Lane and Bridgeview Way – Map)
Lead Artists: Jason Kelly Johnson & Nataly Gattegno (Futureforms)
Artist Team: Jason Kelly Johnson, Nataly Gattegno with Carlos Sabogal, Brian McKinney, Clayton Williams, Natalie Abbott, Chris Leo, Valerie Tse; assisted by Lee Marom, Ki Schmidt, Sam Higgwe
Structural Engineer: Arup (Nick Sherrow-Groves, Lead)
Fabrication Team: Futureforms (San Francisco, CA), Olson Steel (San Leandro, CA), Seaport Stainless (Richmond, CA), Standard Sheet Metal; Skin installers: Pacific Erectors, Sheedy Crane Co.; Aluminum shingles: Neal Feay (Santa Barbara)
Art Consultant: Dorka Keehn

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